30, rocked: Cards the last club Lackey needed to beat

Remember me? Righty stifles former club on milestone night

April 19th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- John Lackey joined a select group of pitchers who have beaten all 30 Major League teams, and he did so at one of his favorite ballparks to pitch in, Busch Stadium. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, he was pitching for the rival Cubs.

Lackey struck out 11 and held St. Louis to four hits over seven scoreless innings in Chicago's 5-0 win Monday night. He's now 12-4 in his career at Busch Stadium, which was his home turf from July 31, 2014, through last season.

"It's a good pitchers' ballpark, especially for this division," said Lackey, who also contributed an RBI single in the seventh inning. "I feel by far it's the best place to pitch in the division as far as size and not giving up homers, that sort of situation."

The right-hander signed a two-year deal with the Cubs last December, and Monday marked his first career regular-season start against the Cards. With the win, he's now the 16th pitcher to beat all 30 big league teams.

30 Teams, 30 Wins

"I didn't even know that," Lackey said.

The 37-year-old Texan is the only active pitcher who has accomplished the feat and the first since Tim Hudson did so on July 26, 2015. The list also includes Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and former Cubs Terry Mulholland, Jamie Moyer and Dan Haren. Al Leiter was the first to do it, back in 2002.

Where does that rate among Lackey's accomplishments?

"I guess not that high," he said.

Lackey also became the 245th pitcher in Major League history with 2,500 or more innings -- he's third among active pitchers -- and he notched his 20th career double-digit strikeout game.

"That's what I've seen the last couple years out of him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cardinals did try to keep Lackey, and they made a qualifying offer last November. But he rejected it. And that, Lackey said, was the last he heard from St. Louis.

"I had a great time when I played here," Lackey said. "No hard feelings on that situation. They went a different direction, and I ended up in a great place."

A key moment came in the fifth inning. St. Louis had runners at second and third with two outs and Matt Carpenter up. After a long conversation with catcher Miguel Montero about pitch selection, Lackey struck out Carpenter to end the inning.

"You've got to change things up," Lackey said. "They obviously know me pretty well, and I know them pretty well.

"[The Cards have] a good lineup for sure. You've got to stay ahead of them. You make mistakes, they're going to hit it. They're good."

So was Lackey. He downplayed whether Monday's win was a sign that the power has shifted in the National League Central to the Cubs.

"We've got a pretty good team here, and expectations are high, and we're embracing those and we're shooting high," Lackey said. "It's still early. Let's play some baseball and see what happens."